School seeks to block critical Ofsted report
A school has gone to the High Court to try to prevent a highly critical Ofsted report from being published.
The report is understood to criticise the school for a policy of teaching boys and girls separately and segregating them at mealtimes.
Reporting restrictions mean neither the name nor the location of the school can be revealed.
The school has the backing of its local education authority in its attempt to stop publication of the report.
The school’s interim board is disputing the report’s findings and is applying for a judicial review to have it quashed.
On Tuesday, Mr Justice Jay, sitting in London, was told the school – which is in England – admitted pupils of both sexes between the ages of four and 16.
He heard how, from Year 5 (age 10 and 11), girls and boys were completely segregated for lessons, break and lunchtimes, as well as for school clubs and trips.
Barristers representing the school claimed documents suggested Ofsted inspectors had decided that segregation of pupils was unlawful, before visiting the school.
They outlined what they described as “pre-determined bias” against the school by inspectors.
Under cross-examination, the lead Ofsted inspector said some pupils had expressed unease about girls and boys being taught separately.
One girl told him it was “dumb” and another said it did not prepare her for life in Britain.
The school cannot be identified because a judge at an earlier hearing said identifying it could “generate a media storm and tensions and fears for parents and the local community”.
Objections to Ofsted
Ofsted has told the BBC there have been four attempts this year for injunction or judicial review against one of their reports.
Of these, two were turned down. In one case, an injunction failed and the report was published, but the school is still seeking retrospectively to overturn the findings via a judicial review.
The fourth attempt comes from the school currently at the High Court.
If the judge rules that the inspection report cannot be published, the case could make it easier for other schools to block critical reports by inspectors.